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After the Wave

Aired December 23, 2005 - 22:00   ET


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening. I'm John King. Anderson is off tonight. Welcome to a special edition of 360. An hour of remembrance of an event that ended an unimaginable number of lives and changed many more even than it ended.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): One year ago, the strongest earthquake in 40 years sends a deadly wall of water across the Indian Ocean. The death toll enormous close to 180,000 spread across a dozen countries. Tonight details and amazing survival stories you've never heard.

Baby 81, an infant ripped from his mother's arms when the tsunami hit then rescued floating on a tire. Several grieving couples tried to claim him as their own. Now he has parents and identity for a nation he is a tiny symbol of hope.

And sacred ground, a staggering number of bodies, 54,000 tsunami victims were dumped here. No ID, no ceremony, no dignity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I spent hours walking around looking at the dead bodies, looking at the faces trying to find my mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One year later, the site grown over. Families still waiting for answers.

This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360: "After the Wave," from the CNN studios in New York.


KING: The wave reached millions faster than the news reached the rest of the world. We did not understand, not at first, the enormity of what had happened, and then, every few hours, every few minutes, just when we thought we understood the scope of the calamity, we were forced to think again and again.

My colleague Anderson Cooper was among the early reporters on the scene.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): It was 7:00 in the morning on the day after Christmas 2004 when the first rumblings were felt. An earthquake measuring 9.3 on the Richter scale erupted under the Indian Ocean. It was the second largest quake in recorded history but what followed was an almost unimaginable horror.

First in Sumatra then Thailand, Sri Lanka, India crushing everything in its path. Destroying the richest resorts and the poorest of villages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The water came through and it came through the whole building and then knocked me complete down in the water. And most of the time I was behind that palm tree.

COOPER: With every on rushing wave, more lives were lost. And no one who lived through it will forget what they saw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we walked towards the beach, you know, we saw our lives basically looked like they were coming to an end because it's sort of a cartoonish wall of water was coming at us, and we reflected back on the earthquake, we felt that morning thinking, oh my goodness, this is a result of the earthquake.

We put two and two together, you know, in a split second timing as you're, you know, just turning and running. And we turned and ran, and we figured that we were going to get crushed.

COOPER: It was a disaster that didn't discriminate from local farmers and fisherman to tourists at the toniest resorts to the rich and famous spending the Christmas holidays in paradise. They all came away with harrowing tales of survival and loss.

Supermodel Petra Nemcova lot her fiancee photographer Simon Atlee.

PETRA NEMCOVA, SUPERMODEL: And I caught from my eye like people running, and I looked at out of the window and people were running away, screaming, trying to jump into the pool.

COOPER: Those fortunate enough to see the tsunami racing feverishly toward them before it hit land ran for their lives. Some holding onto anything they could to keep from drowning. Others seeking shelter in the hills staying there for days in fear that another wave could wash on the shore at any moment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was that, you know, not knowing and no one knew what the second tsunami, the quote unquote aftershock was going to look like and was it going to be higher? Did we need to be higher? And, you know, we were ridiculously high.

You know, it would have been unbelievable to think that we could have actually been, you know, damaged by another wave. But you don't know that. No one knows.

COOPER: But it wasn't until the deadly waters had receded that the true extent of the devastation began clear. One luxurious hotels reduced to rubble. Homes decimated or simply gone and everywhere, everywhere, there was death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was like a sea of dead bodies, children and women mainly. And the majority of them were children. So I had to clear a path through the water by pushing these people away and heading as far inland as possible.

COOPER: On that day with every hour that passed number of dead grew larger from the tens to the hundreds to the thousands to the tens of thousands.

Photos of the missing appeared on walls everywhere. Their loved ones desperate for any word that by some miracle, by some chance, they might still be alive. Within hours, journalists descended on this part of the world and what we found was shocking.

COOPER (on-camera): It's easy almost to become jaded to it all. There's so much debris. There's so much wreckage. I mean, it's just foot after foot, block after block. Street after street. Just keeps going on and on.

(voice over): We saw the terrible toll the tsunami took on the region's people and on animals. So many dogs and cats alone and abandoned became strays, searching for their owners, starving in what was left of the streets.

(on-camera): There are dogs everywhere you go. It's -- and they're very persistent. This dog looks like his left leg, left paw, seems to be broken.

(voice over): Perhaps saddest of all, the thousands of children left orphaned by the wave. Their parents gone in the blink of an eye. Not yet understanding that in a matter of moments, their lives had changed forever.

But through the terrible carnage there were some small glimmers of hope. Who can forget this picture? Two-year-old Hannis Bergstrom (ph) found alone on a beach in Phuket, Thailand, bruised but alive. Reunited with his father days after the storm.

And now, one year later, some towns torn to pieces crushed under the weight of the raging ocean are just slowly starting to rebuild. Homes and hotels are albeit slowly being repaired or replaced.

And there is promise, too, that the precious tourist industry will return, as well. With Thailand's tourist association predicting a resurgence in the first three months of 2006.

But the resiliency of the people of that devastated region doesn't surprise tourists who survived the tsunami. They remember not only the terror of that tragic day, but the kindness of those who lived there and those who lost so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the thing that we take away from there was, you know, it was a horrible, you know, natural disaster, but the compassion that my kids experienced and, you know, the kindness of the Thai people, they'll never forget that.

COOPER: Anderson Cooper, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: In the ordinary course of things, visiting a grave site also brings a mourner some comfort but the ordinary course of things was entirely overturned last December all around the Indian Ocean and so, in a place like Banda Aceh, even that small comfort is denied survivors. To put it another way, a final resting place is one thing. A mass grave is another.

CNN's Alex Quade has revisited a place she first saw last September. We want to warn you, some of the video in her report is graphic.


ALEX QUADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This was a place of sheer horror. More than 54,000 tsunami victims were dumped here without identification, without dignity, without ceremony.

At the time, there was nothing else to do. Bodies were rotting in the streets. We followed the body baggers then. It was a nightmare. Death everywhere we looked, everywhere we stepped.

It was like that for the survivors, too. Searching among the corpses for their families.

One year later, those survivors come to the mass grave searching for solace. A nightmare about his mother, brought 18-year-old Wallace (ph) here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night, I dream, Wallace, why you didn't come to my house, she said. Sorry, I say.

QUADE: The college student lost more than 200 members of his family and is now responsible for his brother and little sister. But it is his mother's death that haunts him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mother was at home. Sorry.

QUADE: Wallace, who wants to be a computer programmer, blames himself for his mother's death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father asked me to go swim out in the black water and try to find my mother. I thought it was impossible to find her in the dark water since everyone was running away to save their lives. How could I swim towards the tsunami to find my mother? It was impossible.

QUADE: Then, he confesses his secret to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't swim. I couldn't swim. So I ran away to the mountains.

QUADE: Hours later, Wallace tried swimming for the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I finally arrived at my house but there was no house anymore just foundation. But I recognized that it was my house. I sat there and cried. Where are you, mother? How can I find you?

QUADE: His search brought him to the mass grave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I spent hours walking around looking at the dead bodies, looking at their faces trying to find my mother. I was afraid. Because there were too many dead bodies.

QUADE: In Wallace's recurring nightmare, his mother asks why he didn't come home to save her. So he comes to the mass grave to ask her forgiveness. Though he will never know if she is really buried here.

Those who are, he says, do not rest in peace, because this is disputed land. The caretaker who grows fruit and vegetables on the grave says the 54,000 bodies were buried here without the landowner's permission. The sign says the landowner is angry, wants to be paid. A situation which brings no peace to the living.

When you look out here...


QUADE: What do you see?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see the dead body.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I saw the process with the tractor. Like animals. They just threw them away. The process was horrible. In Islam, in bury people with white clothing, but there were no burial clothes. I know that my mother was thrown from a tractor like that here.

QUADE: The disputed mass grave is now green with life. Cows roam. Papaya trees grow. Little comfort for survivors like Wallace (ph). There is nowhere else for them to mourn.

Alex Quade, CNN, Banda Aceh, Indonesia.


KING: Then and now, tears and fears.

Another teenager still suffering and still living at a camp. But there is one thing that brings him joy. The story of his survival, next.

And later, baby 81, one year later. After the tsunami, he was claimed by more than one couple. Now he is with his real parents. They share what their life has been like these past 12 months. This is a special edition of 360, "After the Wave."


KING: One year ago in Indonesia, after the undersea upheaval, great roiling coils of water left perhaps a half million people homeless. Today, 12 months later in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh, tens of thousands are still living in tents. In one of them, a year ago, CNN's Alex Quade found a boy named Nasir (ph). This December, in another tent, she found him again.


QUADE: When we first met Nasir, his life was hard. His family and village gone, swept away by the tsunami. A year ago, while other children swam, 13-year-old Nasir scrubbed laundry. Just getting by was a daily struggle, with work and memories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I ran to the mosque to save us. Then the mosque was hit by the wave and the water came in. I had my two sisters on my left. They kept calling for my mother. More water came in. They couldn't breathe and were limp. I didn't let go of their hands. I held them tight. Then I couldn't breathe anymore. So I let go. Somebody saved me.

QUADE: Nasir thought he was orphaned, and ended up here in a refugee tent, cooking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I want to buy vegetables, but have no money.

QUADE: Cleaning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): All I do every day is wash the dishes.

QUADE: Feeling guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Last time I saw my father, take care of your sisters, he says. Then he left. Half an hour later, the water came.

QUADE: Days later, Nasir's life changed again. The mother he thought dead showed up at his tent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Before I found my mother, I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep at night. Every day for a week I went searching for my mother.

QUADE: She helped him wash for prayers, but was too depressed to do much else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm responsible for my mother now. She can't work. She thinks about my sisters. When the tsunami came, my mother almost surrendered. She wanted to die with her children.

QUADE: So Nasir worked even harder to care for them both.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The difficult part is thinking about my dead family and what my future will be.

QUADE: One year later, at a new camp an hour away in the hills, I find 13-year-old Nasir still living in a tent. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are given a bag of rice three times a month. We put the food in here, so no flies get in.

QUADE: He, his mother and 1,500 other tsunami victims share this camp with cows, goats, cats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): After 12:00 a.m., there are 20 dogs that bark all night. It is difficult to sleep.

QUADE: It's noisy. There's no privacy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We bathe and wash clothes in the communal toilet area.

QUADE: Last time that we talked, you were doing so many things for your mom. Are you still doing so much?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I did all that stuff at the first camp, because I had no other family. But now, my mother does more things.

QUADE: But she is still too depressed to work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My mother could not survive without me. I worry when I leave her alone to go to school. I asked, should I quit school to work? And she said, no. You must go to school. It's hard to find money just to survive.

QUADE: He wants to get a job picking coconuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I need a good job, so if my mother is sick, there's money to go to the hospital. I hate to see her suffer.

QUADE: Nasir, too, suffers, and prays at the mosque five times a day to help deal with his pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I really miss my father and my little sisters, because no one can replace them. I have had the same dream more than 10 times. When I wake up, I wonder if it is going to happen again or not. Last night, I dreamed the tsunami was happening here, at the new camp.

QUADE: Only one thing brings him joy in this refugee life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is my monkey named Joy. I got Joy from the tsunami.

QUADE: His best friend at camp.

Has having a pet monkey made it easier to live in the camp?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, I'm very happy to play with Joy.

QUADE: But his future beyond this camp weighs on him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When I was 5 years old, my father told me when you grow up, you must be a policeman. So that's what I hope to do some day.

QUADE: Until then, Nasir will get through this chapter in his life with a little joy.

Alex Quade, CNN, near Banda Aceh, Indonesia.


KING: Day by day, amid the pain, life goes on. But the destruction still lingers, even along a railroad track. Mangled cars. Coming up, a train worker recalls what happened when the wave hit, and what he hopes happens to the wreckage left behind.

Plus, he hates the water, but must fish to support what's left of his family. How he conquers his fears when this special edition of 360 continues.


KING: More of "After the Wave" in a moment. But first here are some top stories we are following tonight. Four days after a sea plane crashed off Florida, the body of the 20th and final victim has been recovered from the ocean. It was swept out to sea and only discovered by a boater late this morning.

The Coast Guard not yet released the name of the victim. The bodies of the other 19 passengers and crew were recovered Monday not long after that plane went down.

A first step towards troop reduction in Iraq. While visiting American soldiers here in Fallujah today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced the cut in U.S. combat forces by about 7,000 in early 2006.

At the same time, Rumsfeld said, some of the troops removed from combat would become involved in training Iraq's new military.

And what were all these police cruisers doing early this morning on the Dallas expressway? Waiting to capture the driver of a pickup truck with an unlit license plate. His refusal to stop led to a police chase and a six-hour standoff that closed one of the busiest expressways in the city.

The driver, at one point, threatened to fire at officers but in the end surrendered peacefully.

After the wave continues in a moment.


KING: We learned a great many things in the days and weeks and months that followed the tsunami in Southeast Asia. Most of them harrowing and sorrowful. One especially hard lesson, a lesson we still are learning is that the old saying isn't true. Time does not heal wounds.

CNN's Satinder Bindra revisits a man who did all he could that day in December, really he did, but who will be forever haunted because he couldn't do more.


SATINDER BINDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): All aboard and time to roll. Wanigarathne Karunathilaka has been a guard on trains that run along Sri Lanka's south coast for 22 years.

On December 26th, 2004, Wanigarathne was on board a train just like this when the sea roared on to land, slammed into the train and killed more than a thousand people.

It was like a big monster, he says. It had a black mouth and white head and was trying to eat us. It was so big it was coming right at the train.

The tsunami smacked into the train with the intensity of a thunder clap but rather than panic, Wanigarathne opened several emergency passageways leading people onto the roof of the train. Later, as the water subsided, he led them to higher ground.

I don't think I'm a hero, he says. I failed to save hundreds of people. I think I'm the worlds most unfortunate and unlucky man.

These rail cars have still not been removed from the scene of the tragedy. Passengers traveling by train in southern Sri Lanka can see them as they whiz by and every day tourists and other visitors arrive to remember.

(on-camera): For many visitors these mangled rail cars serve as an eternal reminder of nature's fury. Others say as long as this memorial remains, it will continue to remind them of their loved ones who perished here.

Guard Wanigarathne, who crosses this spot every day on his train, says it's more appropriate to construct a museum away from the scene of the tragedy.

But Manjala Jankeka (ph) says the rail cars should stay. His air conditioner repair shop was destroyed during the tsunami, and he now sells handmade artifacts and boats to visiting tourists. Without the rail cars, Manjala says his business would suffer, and he would never be able to save enough to reopen his shop.

As the debate over these rail cars continues, Wanigarathne returns to the scene of the tragedy. Seventeen-year-old Janateen Milbini (ph) says 12 months ago, the train guard saved her life. I was hanging on a coconut tree, she says, because the water had pushed me up there. And that's when he put out a stick and helped me come on to the train. But for all that others think of him, and even a year after the disaster, Wanigarathne says he's still consumed by loss. And even if he lives for a thousand years, he says, he can never forget all those who didn't make it home on December 26th last year.

Satinder Bindra, CNN, southern Sri Lanka.


KING: For thousands of people along the shores of the Indian Ocean, their lives are dependent on one thing the catch of the day. They fish for a living. The problem is, that means they must go back to the waters. The same waters they worshipped like a God, but they never thought had such destructive powers.

CNN's Alex Quade reports on a fishing boy with many secrets.


ALEX QUADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is Hamula's (ph) secret way to catch fish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I chase the fish by bashing the water. I beat the water so the fish will come out.

QUADE: And this is Hamula's secret fishing hole.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this location, there were houses. After the tsunami, there's water here and no more houses. They were taken by the tsunami.

QUADE: The 13-year-old's relatives lived right here. They and their homes are gone.

(on-camera): What do you remember about the tsunami?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard people screaming, water, the water is rising. I wondered why. I ran. I saw my friends also running. Five of my close friends died.

QUADE (voice over): More than 169,000 people lost their lives in Aceh more than anywhere else the wave hit.

Hamula and his parents survived. His home, relatives and schoolmates did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are many dead bodies everywhere after the tsunami. There are damaged houses and schools. It makes me feel unhappy and sad to think about it.

QUADE: Though he smiles, he says he hates this water. But he must fish to help support what's left of his family. Today is a good day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These two cost 5,000 rupio (ph).

QUADE: About 50 cents in U.S. dollars. Fishing for a living after the tsunami is hard. Muck and debris choke the ecosystem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now there's no place to fish. The water is gone deeper. It is not good.

QUADE: All around Hamula, workers are rebuilding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are no houses anymore. Many poor people, I feel sad. I still feel sad.

QUADE: The tsunami made 500,000 Acehenes (ph) homeless. Today nearly 68,000 in this provincial capital alone still live in tents. Humanitarian shanty towns are going up, but rebuilding lives is harder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's not same now. I don't enjoy school anymore. I lost so many friends.

QUADE: As he fishes, Hasmula (ph) dreams of becoming a Muslim cleric and worries he will be stuck for the rest of his life beating the water that took his relatives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don't know why the tsunami happened.

QUADE: A year later, he still is afraid it will happen again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was scary. I'm still scared.

QUADE: Alex Quade, Banda Aceh, CNN, Indonesia.


KING: The children perhaps hardest hit, so many of them orphaned. Coming up, three children who lost their parents share what life is like one year later.

Plus, baby 81, torn from his mother's arm when the tsunami hit. Weeks later, his parents had to go to court to get him back. See how the little boy has come to symbolize hope for the future. This is a special edition of 360: AFTER THE WAVE.


KING: People are calling them the "tsunami generation," that's children that survived the killer wave. They are the future, but that future is uncertain. And for thousands life goes on without their parents. CNN's Alex Quade introduces now to three tsunami orphans.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Everything is gone and there is only one tilted house.

QUADE (voice-over): Ten-year-old Ecca (ph), 14-year-old Nana (ph), and their brother 16-year-old Marwadi (ph) return to their neighborhood for the first time. Four-thousand people lived here, few survived. Bodies float in the water, bake under the rubble. The children take us and an uncle along to find their house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There are a lot of houses here, four full blocks. We lived over there at the end. There were a lot of stores right here and right here was a fish farm. The day it happened it was exactly like this, nice and sunny. But today the waves look nice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the earthquake hit, mama was so scared she started praying. We looked towards the ocean and all of a sudden there was a wave. Dad told us to take the motorbike and run and away. This is when we last saw him.

QUADE (on camera): The three children on their small motorbike race down the road. The tsunami, they could hear behind them. They fell off several times, they even hit a pedestrian. They couldn't stop to see how he was. They had to outrun the wave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It was really tall, taller than that tree. When we were on the bike, here, I looked behind me and saw a two-story house crashing down, hit by the really tall wave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The water was coming closer as if a dam had broken. It was about 50 meters behind us, so we continued.

QUADE (voice-over): Their search for their parents began in a mass of corpses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): we both looked at the bodies. Ecca was too scared, she waited on the motorbike. We looked for three days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We couldn't look anymore because bodies were starting to decompose. We opened the body bags and we couldn't even identify who they looked like.

QUADE: The children don't talk about losing, but about what about what they remember. Ecca says their father was teaching her to ride the motorbike. Nana misses their mother's singing. Marwadi prayed with their father every day. So they search through the rubble for some sign of their former life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I wish out of all of this to find at least something for identity, a school certificate or something. There's nothing left.

QUADE: They finally see their home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is our house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is mom's room.

QUADE: And these were their rooms. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is where I use to cook. This is where I use to wash.

QUADE: She misses cooking with her mother. Nana wants to leave her mark. This was her room. But her pen dies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): You can't see it clearly.

QUADE: Nana, Ecca, and Marwadi must move on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Brother, there is nothing left.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, there is nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): That is my school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): That's the library and these are all the classes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There's nothing left. I don't know where we'll go to school.

QUADE: No school, home, money, or parents. Their future uncertain. One year later.

(on camera): Oh, you're so pretty. Hello.

(voice-over): I find Nana, Ecca, and Marwadi at an uncle's.


QUADE: Babysitting his four children in exchange for shelter. Nana goes to a new school, so does Ecca, and they now wear Muslim head scarves. Marwadi goes to a new mosque.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have to struggle to survive because we lost those we loved. Our law gave us this challenge and we have to face it.

QUADE: They miss their old home, so we go back.

(on camera): What is it like to be back here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It's very different now, there's nothing here. There should be new houses here by now, but the government doesn't allow the redevelopment because it's too close to the sea.

QUADE: The little left of their house taken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Someone took the toilet. There are people going through the rubble looking for things to take.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): This is a broken plate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was mama's plate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Why didn't the scavengers take it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): What for? It's damaged.

QUADE (on camera): The children tell me that even a year later they still worry about stumbling across bodies. They found a skeleton here not too long ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Nana, I'm afraid to walk ever here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm afraid when I see the ocean.

QUADE (voice-over): They don't like to go much closer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm always also afraid. The other day I went out there after a low tide and found many bones and skulls.

QUADE: Then he teases.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Go further, there's ghosts. Ghosts will take you.

QUADE: It's been a tough year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I feel like I've replaced my father because I have to take care of my sisters.

QUADE: Ecca had taken their loss the hardest, her sister says.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It is very hard to take care of Ecca. She never finishes her homework.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I only study when there's quiz.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I tell her she needs to change her attitude because it is very important for her future.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I always remind Ecca that we have no parents anymore. That's why we need to be tough and do everything by ourselves.

QUADE: Marwadi wants to be a doctor. Nana, a nurse. And Ecca jokes a hospital manager so she can boss them around.

(on camera): Last time we were here, we came over here and the pen you tried to write your name on the floor, that this was your room, and the pen did not work. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes. The pen did not work when I wanted to mark the ground so my brother made a sign. This is to protect our family's property.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): A bulldozer will come and level the land. I'm afraid if I don't put the sign I won't find my property again.

QUADE (voice-over): A year after the great tsunami, they have hope for the future which Ecca sings about. And their smiles are back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I want us to be successful in our lives, to help others and I want us to live the way our parents wanted us to.

QUADE: Alex Quade CNN, Banda Aceh, Indonesia.


KING: You can watch Alex's special report on "CNN PRESENTS" this New Year's weekend.

Even the smallest children have been impacted by the tsunami. Coming up, baby 81 rescued and the subject of a court fight when so many couples came forward saying he was their son. You'll hear from his real parents.

And memories of wave from the resort island of Phuket, Thailand. See what life is like there now. This is a special edition of 360: AFTER THE WAVE.


KING: More of AFTER THE WAVE in a moment, but first here's a look at some of tonight's top stories.

'Tis the season for forgiveness, at least if you're President Bush. Today the president granted 11 pardons making a total of 69 since he was sworn in five years ago. Among those granted clemency, three moonshiners, a bank robber, a marijuana dealer, and an attorney with ties to the republican party.

But for a voting mistake, instead of London, the 2012 Olympics could have been on the other side of the English side. During last July's voting to award those summer, a member of the International Olympic Committee allegedly pressed the wrong button, a mistake that may have eliminated Madrid in favor of Paris. Some say if Madrid had survived to face London in the final round, most of those supporting Paris would have voted for the Spanish capitol just to make sure there age-old cross channel rival didn't get the prize.

"Santa's sleigh has arrived," that's what an American astronaut William McArthur said today after a Russian space ship showed up at the International Space Station carrying supplies and Christmas gifts. McArthur and his Russian colleague, Valeriy Tokarev have been many orbit for nearly three months. According to a Russian news agency, they holiday goodies included chocolate, DVDs, and Father Frost, Russia's answer to Santa. Our tsunami special AFTER THE WAVE continues in a moment.


KING: The stories of the tsunami, so very many of them stories of terrible loss, will never all be told. How could they be? But a few can and one of them, wonderful to say, is not a story of loss at all, but of rescue and recovery of a child who was only a number last December, but who now has a name. CNN's Satinder Bindra reports.


BINDRA (voice-over): On December 26, last year, a raging sea tore a 4-month-old boy from his mother's arms. Hours later, he was found floating on this tire by a schoolteacher who took him to a hospital in eastern Sri Lanka. The staff there called him baby 81, the 81st patient seen in the wake of the tsunami. Word spread of the infant's survival and several couples who lost children in the tsunami began claiming the baby boy was theirs.

One couple, the Jayarajah took a DNA test and won a lengthy court battle to get their son back. Baby 81 is now 16 months old. His name is Abihilash, it means hope and he's come to symbolize the aspirations of all Sri Lankans trying to forget the tsunami and build a future.

"I pray that when he grows up, he does good things that make us all proud," says his father. "I trust that will happen."

Abihilash and his parents' home was destroyed by the tsunami, they now live in a rented house. Despite several pledges, the Jayarajah's say they're disappointed they haven't received any funds to rebuild their lives.

"I'm not angry, but feel sad we didn't get anything," he says, "we couldn't rebuild our home and are still not settled."

(on camera): Murugupillai Jayarajah now runs this small hair cutting salon with his brother. He says business is good because of his family's fame with many customers coming here just to meet Abihilash's father.

(voice-over): Murugupillai makes about $8 a day, a decent wage in these parts. He and his wife dream of giving their son the best possible education.

"Our only hope is to keep him happy," she says, "and bring him up in the best possible manner." The Jayarajah's say they feel the pressure of raising such a famous son, a baby whose story marks the triumph of the human spirit against a savage sea.

Satinder Bindra CNN, Kalmunai, Eastern Sri Lanka.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: Another symbol of hope, coming up, we'll take you to the island of Phuket, Thailand, shattered by the tsunami, but picking up the pieces. This is 360.


KING: The devastation was not limited to Indonesia. It came also to Thailand and to a beach town famous before the tsunami for being something pretty close to heaven on earth, but last December, Phuket much closer to hell on earth than to heaven.

CNN's Aneesh Raman headed there at the time and went back just recently.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first wave hit Phuket around 9:00 a.m., within minutes (INAUDIBLE) alerted the world, within hours we arrived.

(on camera): We got to Phuket on the first flight in. Most of the island was still without electricity, and here at the airport, this area was filled with hundreds of stranded people.

(voice-over): The first survivor we met was 26-year-old Julia Lebue (ph) from Belgium.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The building was collapsing so I had to jump to another building. And then a second wave came in, a third wave came in, and people injured, I saw dead bodies floating. And so, then at a moment we decided with a couple of people just to run for it.

RAMAN: She had escaped death narrowly, but many. We soon discover were not as lucky. Tens, then hundreds, then thousands, the number of dead kept rising. There was a wall of missing, some of the faces to this day still unaccounted for. Debris was everywhere above ground and below the water. Now, it is almost all gone. A year later, there are few signs of what happened here. More of what is happening now. (INAUDIBLE) managed the Commala (ph) Beach Hotel where some of the most dramatic video was shot. In the days after the tsunami, he sounded optimistic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should be able to prevail.

It's getting better.

RAMAN (on camera): Yeah, good to see you.

(voice-over): A year later his spirit seems vindicated as the tourists return. The hotel once littered with endless debris, is back.

(on camera): What is it for you to see this? To see people coming back to see the hotel back up and running? I'm so happy, I'm so happy. I'm really happy for the staff, all the people on the beach and every thing that their lives can move on and get going again.

RAMAN (voice-over): But not everywhere. The worst hit part of Thailand was the coastal area, Punga (ph). We got there by road three days after the tsunami hit to find an area just starting to dig out.

(on camera): A year later, the area where we stood in Punga (ph) is now being rebuilt. Most of the debris has been cleared.

(voice-over): But some of it, this ship, still rests miles inland serving as a reminder of that tragic morning and the wounds here linger, as well, especially the children of the tsunami. At this school in Punga (ph), everyone was affected. Fourteen-year-old (INAUDIBLE) saw his whole family, parents and brother, killed.

"I will never forget what I have lost," he says, "I keep telling myself, no one in my family should have died in the tsunami."

The pain in southern Thailand remains very real, survivors struggling to start over, some waiting, even now, for permanent shelter. But the clearest legacy of the tsunami here is not one of tragedy, but one of resilience and determination, of people throughout this area overcoming the greatest of odds and living again.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Phuket, Thailand.


KING: This special edition of 360: AFTER THE WAVE continues in a moment. Stay with us.


KING: I'm John King in for Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching this special edition of 360: AFTER THE WAVE.

Coming up next, "CNN Presents: The Mystery of Jesus.


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